home inspector: Duct Concerns - 04/23/12 09:17 AM

The photo shows both a larger heating/cooling duct and a disconnected dryer lint duct... Can you spot the concerns?During the inspection, it was noted that the soil was very moist.. That the large duct is not supported off the ground... And is in contact with the moist ground.There can be moisture and rodent intrusion, that could lead to health issues.Flexible clothes dryer lint ducts are not permitted for use in a crawlspace and are prone to lint buildup. The open lint duct discharges warm, moist air into the crawlspace making the wood framing susceptible to fungus growth...Lint accumulation under a … (2 comments)

home inspector: Walking on Water - 03/27/12 06:08 PM
It’s not everyday that home inspectors can say they walked on water.  The photo is a buckled wood floor.  Buckling is when wood flooring swells and lifts off of the sub-floor surface.Severe buckling is usually the result of excessive water flooding a wood floor... for example, an overflowing bathtub or toilet; or a water supply pipe break.It this case, the source of water was a garden hose.In the current real estate market, there are foreclosures, short sales, and abandoned houses. Sometimes, disgruntled homeowners damage their house before the bank takes it over.The rear sliding door was opened, a garden hose was … (1 comments)

home inspector: The Dark Side of Ivy - 03/07/12 07:28 PM

Ivy can look beautiful on house walls and brick chimneys, if maintained. The thick, green texture gives your home a woodsy feel. It can provide a canopy over a trellis or pergola.There is a dark side to ivy, though. As the ivy tendrils (a slender, whiplike or threadlike plant strand specialized to anchor and support vines) dig deep into brick; it can actually grow through the brick and mortar, damaging your home and chimney.Ivy had fully engulfed this chimney. From the roof, the home inspector could barely make out the spark arrestor/raincap assembly on top; and could not see the … (6 comments)

home inspector: Where There's Soot; There's... - 02/04/12 07:32 PM

This is an exterior termination exhaust duct for a gas wall heater or decorative gas log fireplace. 
This is called direct venting.Direct venting uses a 2-layer pipe running through a hole in the wall behind the interior heating unit. The outer pipe draws air in from the outside to create combustion for burning the gas in the heating unit... And the inner pipe takes the exhaust gases to the outside.This design reduces the risks of carbon monoxide buildup within the house.Note the soot above the termination on the the stucco siding... Not good.If there is soot or a ‘scorched’ look … (1 comments)

home inspector: 100% Cosmetic - 01/20/12 11:33 PM

Drywall (sheetrock) panels makes up a large part of today’s house interior walls and ceilings. As home buyers walk through an empty house during a home inspection, they tend to focus closely on the quality of the interior finish. Many people react negatively when they spot a hairline crack in the wall/ceiling; thinking that a crack contributes to the structural integrity of the house. The fact of the matter is that cracks are 100% cosmetic, not structurally threatening and can be repaired.The most common cracks are found at the corners of windows and door frames or straight-line cracks in ceilings. … (1 comments)

home inspector: Seeing Red - 01/20/12 11:21 PM
Today, many heating furnaces and air conditioning evaporator coils are installed in the attic. It frees up closet/storage space in the house and it’s quieter when the heating/cooling is on.When an air conditioning evaporator coil unit is installed in the attic (the silver box in photo), a condensate overflow pan is typically installed under the unit. The condensate overflow pan is a safety device intended to prevent unwanted condensate leakage (water) from spilling onto floors and ceilings, if something goes wrong.In the photo taken during a Walnut Creek home inspection, there's rust colored water in the overflow containment pan and the … (0 comments)

home inspector: What Happened? - 01/20/12 11:03 PM
The crawlspace...
You know it as the dark, creepy place under the house, filled with spiders and other critters. For the plumber, the electrician and the HVAC (heating, ventilation and air conditioning) contractors... It's the shallow unfinished space beneath the first floor to provide access to the plumbing, wiring and heating/cooling ducts.Home inspectors ‘love’ crawl spaces, which is why they save crawling under the house usually as their last inspection step. Put a group of seasoned home inspectors together and ask them what they've seen in crawlspaces. They'll tell you they've seen it all.
The shoes...What happened? Do they belong … (5 comments)

home inspector: What's This? - 01/16/12 02:00 PM
This flexible natural gas connector line is installed through the sheetmetal side panel of a heating furnace... A standard practice in the past.Passing through the center of a sheetmetal cutout isn't so much of a concern, but when the flexible connector is tight up against the edge of the sheetmetal... This is cause for action."What's the problem with this?" you may ask.When you turn on your central heating forced air furnace, a large blower motor turns on to move the warm air throughout your house. As the the blower motor bearings wear... mechanical vibrations occur.The sheetmetal edge is thin and 'sharp'. … (1 comments)

home inspector: Under the Sink - 01/05/12 10:54 PM
What is a P-Trap?
Take a look under any bathroom or kitchen sink.  If the plumbing was professional installed, you'll see a u-shape pipe with a pipe 'leg' running to the back of the cabinet... It looks like the letter P laying down.
 
This is called a p-trap. Its design has two purposes: First, to allow the water from the sink to flow out and to keep sewer gas from coming in; it's in the U portion of the drain that water literally sits and forms a seal (water seal)... 
 
...and Secondly, the p-trap can catch items that might go … (3 comments)

home inspector: Venting Hot Air? - 01/05/12 09:53 PM
Hardly...
This partially disconnected water heater exhaust flue is discharging unwanted exhaust gases (including carbon monoxide) into the garage as shown in this photo.
In this Walnut Creek house, there was a bedroom above the garage ceiling... not good, if exhaust gases accumulate and there's a breach (gap, hole) in the ceiling. A requirement of a properly installed water heater exhaust flue is that the beginning of the exhaust duct sections be mechanically secured with three sheetmetal screws to the water heater (putty color) draft hood. 
In the event of an earthquake or the exhaust flue is accidently bumped, … (4 comments)

home inspector: Amazing Tenacious Termites - 01/05/12 12:53 AM
Happy new year!
Termites have lived longer than the dinosaurs and continue to eat their way through all the wood they can find. Termites are 24/7 bugs, which means they eat non-stop - 24 hours a day, seven days a week. They have hard, saw-toothed jaws that help them to eat lumber, wallpaper, plastics and fabric make of plant fibers. These pests cause up to $2 billion of damages per year. Termite Fact: The total weight of all of the termites in the world is greater than the weight of all the humans in the world... Believe it or not... (don't … (3 comments)

home inspector: Plugged... Not Good - 12/18/11 08:22 PM

This is a temperature pressure relief valve (TPR valve) on a water heater. 
 
A TPR valve is a safety valve.
 
If something goes wrong with the water heater (i.e., the water heater doesn't turn Off after reaching the set temperature)... the valve is designed to open when a certain internal tank temperature or pressure is reached... and the hot scalding water under pressure flows out a discharge pipe to the exterior per today's requirements.
 
In this photo, there's no installed discharge pipe and the TPR valve has been plugged... Defeating the purpose of a safety valve... Not good.
 
Water … (1 comments)

home inspector: Red Flag at the Air Gap - 12/17/11 11:41 PM
You’ve seen them… those small chrome cylinders with open slots attached to your kitchen sink deck or counter top. Have you ever wondered what that silver thingy is?
It’s called an air-gap device that’s installed between the dishwasher drain line and the garbage disposer.
The purpose is to prevent contaminated water (water from the dishwasher contains food particles that'll host bacteria in the hose) from siphoning back into the dishwasher, if there’s blockage at the disposer. It’s a one-way path for water flow and a health safety device.
Your dishes come out squeaky clean from the dishwasher, but some of … (7 comments)

home inspector: The S-Trap - 12/16/11 11:04 PM
 
 
The purpose of a plumbing trap under your house sinks is to prevent odorous sewer gases from entering the house back through the sink and tub drains... By having water sit in the trap, it effectively blocks sewer gas. There are two basic types of traps: P and S configurations. Both configurations have a trap section, which is a U-shape pipe where water sits in the U and creates a water seal between the sewer gases found at the street sewer system and the house interior. The P-trap water discharge is a horizontal pipe to a wall, rather than … (1 comments)

home inspector: Duct Tape Band-Aid - 12/14/11 10:47 AM
As a home inspector at Pacific Coast Inspections, I encounter grey duct tape being used all the time - mainly on heating and cooling ducts - which turns out to be
a non-compliant use of the tape.
It's probably true, that duct tape has a 1001 uses. There's even a book about duct tape that you can buy this year at Amazon.com called... you guessed it... the Duct Tape book.
In the photo, I spotted a single rust-streak on the duct tape on a water supply pipe above the 2005 model water heater.
The tape above the streak was peeled away … (1 comments)

home inspector: The History of Santa Claus - 12/09/11 06:19 PM

 
The story of Santa Claus in America begins with the history of St Nicholas.

 
In America the history of Santa goes back four centuries.

 
The evolution of the character as we know him today is a remarkable one with world-wide implications... enjoy reading.

Seasons Greetings,

from Glenn Stewart, The House Whisperer
member of Pacific Coast Inspections in the San Francisco Bay Area
 
(1 comments)

home inspector: Disconnected - 11/11/11 09:57 PM

Disconnect… to terminate a connection.  Ask any home inspector, disconnected heating and cooling ducts in the attics are a common occurrence.
Why?  Because standard gray duct tape was used… It says ‘duct tape’ right on the label… It must be the right tape for ducts.  Right?
Wrong!  During World War II, before it was called duct tape, the U.S. military bought a cloth-backed, rubber-adhesive tape for making emergency repairs on the battlefield.
Sometime after WWII, heating and cooling contractors begin to use the tape to seal the joints in heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) ducts. This tape … (4 comments)

home inspector: A Different Way - 11/11/11 09:15 PM

Just when the seasoned home inspector thinks he’s seen it all… a new photo op presents itself.
To connect electrical service to a house...the non-insulated electrical service cable is secured to the house service mast with a wire holder clamped to the mast.
In this photo, someone used a rope instead of a wire holder… Not good.
The end result (at the time the photo was taken) is that the insulation on the black cable has been damaged by the cables rubbing together in the wind.
If the non-insulated cable contacts the metal conductor of the black cable … (1 comments)

home inspector: Just When You Think You've Seen It All - 11/05/11 02:00 PM
Take one oscillating fan, wire for attachment and an extension cord... And you have all the makings of a low cost attic fan in the truest sense.   On the plus side: very creative thinking... On the downside: a portable fan at one exhaust vent is not effective... consumes electricity... adds more heat from the fan motor... and creates an electrical safety hazard using extension cord wiring. Attic ventilation is one of the single most important aspects of your home when it comes maintaining high energy efficiency and interior comfort levels. A good attic ventilation system is designed to expel solar heated hot air … (1 comments)

home inspector: Drain/Waste Line Woes - 10/29/11 10:27 AM
 
Water weighs approximately 8 lbs per gallon.... In a large household, it's conceivable to flush a toilet, take a shower, run water in a sink, and have both the washing machine and dishwasher discharging water at the same time... a lot of water weight flowing through a drain/waste pipeline.
With these older plastic support straps shown in the photo, which fail in about 5 years... Or possibly an earthquake occurred at the time water was flowing through the drain line... The drain/waste line came down. Whatever the cause, ABS pipe requires support every 4 feet using approved straps. No wire or … (1 comments)

 
Glenn Stewart..., Can a house talk? Yes it can (The House Whisperer)

Glenn Stewart...

Can a house talk? Yes it can

Livermore, CA

More about me…

The House Whisperer

Address: 849 E. Stanley Blvd #226, Livermore, CA, 94550

Office: (800) 662-8589

Mobile: (925) 784-1865

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If a house could talk...


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